Dorothy Ashby – Afro-Harping
Orig. release 1968 Cadet Records / 2018 Geffen / UMe
Next to Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby is easily the best-known proponent of “jazz harp.” I mean, it’s not exactly a crowded scene, is it? This record stimulates all my auralgenous zones, drawing on ‘soul jazz’, pop, Latin, post-bop, R&B and proto-funk. It may even evoke “exotica”, but only in the best ways: the lead-off track has a theremin in it, FFS. It’s the kind of thing jazz purists used to overlook or disdain, with many nods to contemporary pop (“The Look of Love” closes the record, and “Theme from Valley of the Dolls” is a pleasant addition). The musicians are uncredited, but Phil Upchurch has a writing credit and is mentioned as the guitarist on the title track (where he is misidentified as “Paul” Upchurch). The producer on this was Richard Evans, of Ramsey Lewis and The Soulful Strings fame, but given that Cadet issued it, I can’t help wonder if he drew from the stable of musicians used by Charles Stepney for projects like Rotary Connection. It’s got a similar baroque-psych/soul-jazz quality to it. If you like this, you could do worse than to check out her album The Rubáiyát Of Dorothy Ashby for similar good vibes.
The transfer featured here is from the 2018 reissue, and was done before I upgraded my DAW and a few other components, but I haven’t posted anything in a while and this is worth hearing in any format. I’ve been stupidly busy but it has been a cold winter-y week where I’m at, so it’s a good day to give the blog a little love. Also, I neglected to post anything here in the entire month of March, so I’m going to try and make up for that in April.
Label/Cat#: Geffen Records – B0028591-01, UMe – 677 046-1, Cadet – LPS-809
Total length: 35:36
More information: https://www.discogs.com/Dorothy-Ashby-Afro-Harping/release/12285734
LINEAGE: 2018 Geffen B0028591-01 / UMe 677 046-1 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled and dithered using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.